MakerBot: 3D Printers for the mildly solderphobic

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3D printers are coming to the home, undoubtedly. In five years. Or maybe ten. No more than twenty.

Until Canon is selling home models for nearly nothing just so they can lock you into buying their proprietary extruder paste cartridges, your options are limited: the cheapest commercial models, like the “desktop-sized” Objet Alaris 30, are still $40k; and building your own, using the open-source RepRap, takes time and skill.

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There’s a new option, though, that splits the difference: MakerBot Industries sells a build-yourself variant of the RepRap (still open-source) for $700, called the CupCake CNC.

The 3D models you make with the CupCake CNC won’t be mistaken for ones that come out of commercial printers, but the pro machines aren’t offered with an optional Frostruder that can squirt icing onto cupcakes in preprogrammed patterns, are they?

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3 Responses to MakerBot: 3D Printers for the mildly solderphobic

  1. RyanH says:

    The biggest quality difference I can see between Cupcake (and other RepRap derivatives) is their lack of support for support material. In commercial 3D printers it will put down layers of a second dissolvable material to support the layers of material that will be placed above. This leads to cleaner overhangs and tighter results as a whole.

    Considering the overhanging parts of those bunnies were held up by nothing more than the stickiness of the material when they were extruded, I’m surprised that they look as good as they do.

    If someone puts together a variant with some sort of support material extruder the quality will become much, much closer to commercial machines. The fine resolution still won’t be there but that can be corrected for with scale.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I work at a rapid prototyping centre up in the cold cold north and the two big 3D printer manufacturers have released desktop models in the $15k price range that rival our $200k printers that are only a year old. Vflash from 3d systems and uPrint from Dimension.

  3. Martin511 says:

    I note your comments about “building your own, using the open-source RepRap, takes time and skill”.

    We have just launched the RapMan, another derivative of the RepRap, which has been designed to reduce the skill and time requirements for building a fabber.

    Launched at £750 (c $1000), it is a full package, which we aimed at schools.

    We were surprised that we were getting as much interest from industrial organisations, some going into 3D printing for the first time, and others looking to cut their costs.

    So 3D printing is really starting to spread. Perhaps it won’t be so long before it becomes the must-have product for every classroom, every workshop, every company, every home.

    Martin Stevens
    CEO
    A1 Technologies Ltd
    http://www.rap-man.com
    info@rap-man.com
    +44 777 565 1028

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